While many Canadians are dipping into their pockets to offer what they can to war-affected Ukrainians, some Ottawa residents have made more permanent shows of support.
New Moon Tattoo artists say they were inundated with interest after offering to ink people as a fundraiser for the Red Cross Ukraine humanitarian crisis appeal.
The day before the fundraiser, the tattoo shop released a selection of designs for $100 apiece, including Molotov cocktails, sunflowers and tractors pulling tanks.
“I think around 120 people showed up, so we were overwhelmed. We were able to do 65,” said owner Dan Allaston.
Tattoo artist Milena Fusco said she was driven to organize the fundraiser in part because news of the Russian invasion hit close to home. His mother was a political refugee from Czechoslovakia and Fusco wanted to honor her experience.
“It was kind of hard to just sit at the shop and watch what was going on and know that maybe we could raise money for the cause. So we went for it,” Fusco said.
The shop raised $6,800 for the Red Cross Humanitarian Appeal in Ukraine.
New Moon Tattoo is one of many small businesses, individuals and charities across Canada offering creative ways to support Ukrainians. From blue and yellow bow ties and earrings to fundraising concerts and film screenings, many are finding ways to do their part.
Andrij Hornjatkevyc was preparing to play the bandura, the national instrument of Ukraine, on Saturday at a fundraising concert organized by the Department of Music and the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of ‘Alberta.
Hornjatkevyc, originally from Ternopil in western Ukraine but who has lived in Alberta for 30 years, said he was checking in with family overseas until he recently lost contact with them.
The retired associate professor of Ukrainian studies said the concert would include a battle song for a Ukrainian World War I legion known as the Sich Riflemen. The song is like a second national anthem in Ukraine, he said, making it a meaningful piece for the show.
“All performers are responsible for what is done. That is, we have to do our best to make sure it’s appropriate for the occasion, so it’s all going to make sense,” said Hornjatkevyc.
“Tonight is a fine example of the arts, especially the musical arts and the spoken arts, put in the service of Ukraine.”
Also in Edmonton, a Ukrainian bakery owner said he dedicated all sales to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
“We did this to show the general public that everyone can help,” said Vitalii Petechenko of Tisto Cakes.
“I understand that the $4,200 we sent to Ukraine is a drop in the ocean, but if everyone did the same, it would be an ocean.”
Canadian charities are also redirecting some of their energy in some cases to relief efforts in the conflict.
Dr. Bridget Stirling, president of ICROSS Canada, said the organization typically offers medical and educational programs and supplies in North Africa and the Middle East. However, he focused on Europe after diplomats from Poland and Ukraine who knew the organization well asked for help.
ICROSS has since created a supply chain from Warsaw, Poland to Lviv, Ukraine to deliver supplies ranging from dry food to diapers and socks, Stirling said.
This means that supplies that reach the warehouse in Warsaw are taken to the border, picked up by Ukrainians on the other side and taken to another warehouse. From there, they are distributed by car rather than truck, to avoid creating a target, she said.
The organization partnered with Compassionate Resources Warehouse to send a 40ft shipping container full of supplies from Victoria, British Columbia.
He also accepts donations to help pay for medicine, which he can buy at a reduced rate, to send to Western Children’s Hospital in Lviv.
Stirling said the response from people on the ground in Ukraine and Poland has been very positive.
“There are so many people saying we’re so grateful that Canadians heard us, understood us and were with us,” Stirling said.
“Even though it seems like a small thing, a pack of socks, it says, ‘We’re on your side.’”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 13, 2022.